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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 9, 2007 5:49 AM. The previous post in this blog was You have rights -- they just aren't enforceable. The next post in this blog is Request denied. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, July 9, 2007

Is it legal in Portland to fix potholes yourself?

We may find out on Wednesday morning. City Council candidate Charles Lewis and his Cully neighborhood buddies plan to patch up some axle-busters in the awful dirt streets of their neck of Northeast Portland. They also plan to speak out critically in response to Commissioner Sam (the Tram) Adams's latest whines that the city has no money for anything if it isn't an aerial gondola ride or another expensive streetcar extension.

Lewis's press release (pdf) stops short of calling things exactly like they are -- you won't catch the word "tram" or "streetcar" in there anywhere, I don't think -- but he does call Adams out, at least indirectly, on a number of issues. These include the ludicrous rush-rush summertime "public involvement" process that was hastily opened and closed before the tax increases now roll out. (Have you heard? Most Portlanders are "at least willing to consider" a gas tax increase for road maintenance. Or maybe another charge on your water and sewer bill for roads -- let's see if we can get the total bill to break $1,000 a quarter.) Oh, and that new "stakeholder" committee that's going to spend the money -- with fat cat developer John Russell and Mike "Couplet Streetcar" Powell in charge, along with those modern saints from the Port? Lewis shares my amusement at that one.

But forget all that. I can't believe the city's going to let him fix a pothole in broad daylight with the cameras rolling. They'll probably have him arrested, dig out the hole again, and go back to City Hall. Should be interesting.

Comments (31)

I may be wrong, but I think there is a vehicle (no pun intended) for folks to patch up the holes on the unimproved roads around town.

It's a good photo op for Lewis, but if Adams chooses to keep that seat you couldn't dislodge him with a plutonium bomb.

dislodge him with a plutonium bomb

David, you can't just plant these ideas and expect to escape responsibility when someone carries them out.

Dave is correct on citizens being allowed to fix potholes on unimproved streets. The Council adopted code in Title 17 in 2003, allowing citizens to do repairs on streets not constructed to city standards. That code's Policy statement says in part:

"It has been and remains the policy of the City of Portland that streets are constructed at the expense of abutting property owners and are maintained by abutting property owners until street improvements are constructed to the standards of, and accepted for maintenance by, the City. Until a street improvement has been constructed to City standards and the City has expressly assumed responsibility for street maintenance, it is the exclusive duty of the abutting property owners to construct, reconstruct, repair and maintain the unimproved street in a condition reasonably safe for the uses that are made of the street and adjoining properties."

So current policy says neighbors are not only allowed, but responsible for keeping unimproved streets in "reasonably safe" condition.

Areas of the city annexed from the county a few decades ago, such as Cully, southern/western SW, and East Portland, have the highest proportion of unpaved streets. Costs to improve them to city standards are out of reach of most adjacent property owners. Yet citizens who have paid to construct their own street to city standards wonder why they should help subsidize others' improvements. It's a problem with no easy answers.

I live near Cully on an intersection. The numbered street is city standard but the cross street (NE Mason) is not. It is paved with no curbs/sidewalks. When potholes happen on it, I have called the city and they do come out and throw asphalt in the holes. So there is the regulations and there is the reality that if you contact them they will come out. I don't think this would happen in Cully since most streets there are not 'standardized'.

Amanda, "reasonably safe" condition." how can a citizen be held to a higher standard than the city??? And again Amanda, their is no law that says that TRT's, general tax fund can't be used to repair streets. Sam, the scam just wants more money from the poor oppressed citizens, a real good scam.

Notice Sam’s scam here:

All of the money is going to improve safety because Sam cares so much about saving lives. To bad there is nothing leftover to reduce congestion.

But he is ignoring all those lives lost due to congestion:
* Delayed ambulance getting to heat attack victims where death rates rise sharply with a minute or two delay.
* Delayed fire trucks where lost seconds also kill people (see secondscount.org)
* Congestion takes little pieces out of our lives by wasting our time.
* A lifetime of 100 years is 876,000 hours. Can we say congestion killed one person when the cumulative time wasted reaches 876,000 hours?
* Fatal traffic accidents caused by congestion such as that tanker truck that rear-ended a line of cars on 405 a few years back.

Heck, Sam’s approach may even be costing lives by refusing to deal with congestion. But we don’t know because Portland’s extremist planners refuse to look at all of the costs of congestion. They only want to dream that we will give up our cars in favor of toy trains if they cause congestion to get bad enough.

Thanks
JK

I don't think I'm alone in being grateful that Portland gives attention to trams and streetcars. I'd gladly take a tax hike to have a streetcar come out to my Concordia neighborhood. And I'm thrilled that Portland planners are putting energy into the center of the city, and proud that PDX isn't as sprawly as most American cities.

I don't think I'm alone...

"grateful"
"gladly"
"thrilled"
"proud"


I don't think you're alone...

Everything government is for the best in this best of all possible towns.

sprawly???

I don't think I'm alone in being grateful that Portland gives attention to trams and streetcars. I'd gladly take a tax hike to have a streetcar come out to my Concordia neighborhood. And I'm thrilled that Portland planners are putting energy into the center of the city, and proud that PDX isn't as sprawly as most American cities.

sorry, this is one of my favorite misconceptions.

the Tram and Streetcar (there's only one of each) have no relationship to the existence or absence of sprawl.

the Tram serves one business only (OHSU) for a premium price ($4). it was not built for the general public to "get around town."

the Streetcar runs a very short, slow route that's small enough to be walked. and, many argue it results in few (or zero) cars staying off the road, especially since growth in drivership and population more than cancels out any minute Streetcar benefit.

...and, several buses already serve the Concordia neighborhood. a Streetcar isn't coming along a narrow street to Concordia anytime soon (I live there.) traffic congestion continues to rise in many east side areas--not because there's a lack of public transit, but because there are more cars, more people and more commuters.

To add to ecohuman ...

Rail ridership is cannibalized almost entirely from pre-existing bus routes. The only way MAX/streetcar gets ridership is by eliminating pre-existing bus routes.

Put simply, rail does nothing to relieve congestion.

"the Streetcar runs a very short, slow route that's small enough to be walked. and, many argue it results in few (or zero) cars staying off the road, especially since growth in drivership and population more than cancels out any minute Streetcar benefit."

The streetcar travels through the most heavily populated and traffic-clogged parts of Portland, so it provides mass transportation to the area of our city that most requires it. You can argue that buses would be a better option for this route (and I would argue against you), but you can hardly claim that there's simply no need for a mass transportation system running from Northwest Portland (our most densely populated neighborhood) to PSU (the state's largest university, and the biggest single destination for mass transit users).

We can say that people should just walk everywhere the streetcar now takes them, and that's a nice sentiment as it applies to the young and healthy. But experience tells us that given the option of either driving or walking more than 10 minutes, most Americans, young and healthy or not, will choose to drive. Basically, we're a fat, selfish, physically lazy population.

The streetcar certainly takes cars off the road, and it's one of the things that makes Portland a good place to live. I hope the streetcar system is expanded.

(Hmm, I wonder what Jim Karlock thinks about this.)

The streetcar travels through the most heavily populated and traffic-clogged parts of Portland, so it provides mass transportation to the area of our city that most requires it.

i disagree that the Park Blocks, PSU and the Pearl are the areas of Portland that most require it. and, those aren't the most "traffic-clogged" part of the city.

by the way, despite being served by perhaps a dozen bus lines and the Streetcar, 70% of PSU students do not regularly use public transit to get to and from school. never mind the fact that almost none could afford to live on the Streetcar line.

You can argue that buses would be a better option for this route

they already do serve it--well. you can walk a block or two either side of the Streetcar and catch the Max or a bus.

but you can hardly claim that there's simply no need for a mass transportation system running from Northwest Portland (our most densely populated neighborhood) to PSU (the state's largest university, and the biggest single destination for mass transit users).

i didn't claim there's no need. i claimed the Streetcar runs a small, walkable route and does little or nothing to reduce traffic congestion. please see my earlier post

The streetcar certainly takes cars off the road

if you could prove that "certainty", i'd be grateful for the data.

Richard The streetcar certainly takes cars off the road,....
(Hmm, I wonder what Jim Karlock thinks about this.)
JK: Just two words:
Prove it.

BTW, you might enjoy my new page on ugly sprawl around Portland and how glad we are to have other choices:

DebunkingPortland.com/Smart/sprawl/sprawl.htm

Posted by Richard | July 9, 2007 4:58 PM

Thanks
JK

Costs to improve them to city standards are out of reach of most adjacent property owners. Yet citizens who have paid to construct their own street to city standards wonder why they should help subsidize others' improvements. It's a problem with no easy answers.

While I agree there are no easy answers, very few streets in the city have been built without one form of subsidy or another. It used to be in the Charter that the City couldn't charge anything --and later limited what was charged-- for "engineering and superintendence." Most of our streets were built under these rules. Now the sky's the limit...on top of a recognition that a street has responsibilities to the environment, so we require --properly-- better designed streets with stormwater facilities.


"i disagree that the Park Blocks, PSU and the Pearl are the areas of Portland that most require [mass transportation]."

I wonder why you disagree with me. In terms of population density, downtown is where the greatest number of people work; PSU is where the greatest number go to school; the Pearl and Northwest are where the greatest number of people live. Mass transit works best, and is most necessary, where it serves a lot of people and takes them where they most likely want to go.

"despite being served by perhaps a dozen bus lines and the Streetcar, 70% of PSU students do not regularly use public transit to get to and from school."

If your point is that many more people could and should be using mass transit, I agree. And it seems shameful to me that more PSU students don't use it. But I bet they're more likely to use it than any other segment of Portland society that you could name. I think overall mass transit use in this city is something like 13 percent, so PSU students' 30 percent rate of use seems pretty good in comparison.

"i claimed the Streetcar runs a small, walkable route and does little or nothing to reduce traffic congestion. please see my earlier post"

The full extent of the streetcar route, from around NW 23rd and Lovejoy to PSU, is not what most people would regard as walkable. Even considerably smaller portions of that route--let's say anything longer than a 15-minute walk--would not be considered walkable on a regular basis by most people. Therefore, it's reasonable to assume that most people who are taking the streetcar (or the bus) would otherwise be driving their cars.


Mass transit works best, and is most necessary, where it serves a lot of people and takes them where they most likely want to go.

that's an entirely different point from "Park Blocks, PSU and the Pearl are the areas of Portland that most require [mass transportation]."

look into the Pearl District, for example. built very dense, incredible access to public transit of all kinds--but some of the highest auto ownership and driving rates in the city. telling me those folks "need" public transit more than folks living in less densely populated suburbs, for example, is difficult to believe.


If your point is that many more people could and should be using mass transit, I agree.

i'm not sure increased ridership does much about cars in the long run.

let me show you what i mean.

Okay naysayers, what's your solution? Do you really think simply adding more and more lanes will end traffic congestion?

Atlanta, Houston, and Charlotte. It hasn't worked in those places. My hometown of Columbia, SC is and its surrounding suburbs are paving over farmland at an enormous rate. More sprawl, more cars, and more roads and no solution to congestion.

"look into the Pearl District, for example. built very dense, incredible access to public transit of all kinds--but some of the highest auto ownership and driving rates in the city. telling me those folks "need" public transit more than folks living in less densely populated suburbs, for example, is difficult to believe."

I'm saying that people who live in densely populated neighborhoods and who travel to downtown areas "need" public transportation partly because we as a community need those people to use public transportation. Downtown Portland and the close-in neighborhoods simply could not function without mass transportation--at least not without the type of additional radical accommodations of the private auto that are pretty horrible to contemplate. (Parking towers on every other block downtown? Several huge bridges over the Willamette? Twelve-lane freeways dumping cars into the city?)

Your blog post about New York seems to say that mass transportation alone won't save that city from eventually becoming dysfunctional at its present rate of population growth. But without mass transportation, New York would have become a disaster long ago. Widespread use of mass transportation may not be an environmental panacea, but it's certainly better than universal use of the private auto, no?

By the way, how do you know that the Pearl "has some of the highest auto ownership and driving rates in the city"? I imagine that few people who live in the Pearl are unable to afford a car, but I suspect that the average adult Pearl resident relies less on his or her private auto than the average adult Beaverton resident. And I suspect that a fair number of those "empty nester" retired couples own only one car between them, rather than the standard one per adult. But if you're aware of some actual statistics concerning this, I'd be interested in seeing them.

Widespread use of mass transportation may not be an environmental panacea, but it's certainly better than universal use of the private auto, no?

i think, unfortunately, you entirely missed the point of the blog article.

Richard, like a good boxer, you keep shifting ground to a slightly different position.

instead of doing that, how about sticking to your original point about the streetcar and Tram, and post some cluse about the "certainty" of the benefit?

you don't even have to post links--just names of a reliable source or two to contribute to the point.

Charles Lewis should also include in his press release how Sam the Tram uses his Transportation Bureau to further his political future. For example, this past week he had his road crews post "no parking" for all the parking slots in the RiverPlace area-right at the time of the Blues Festival. Parking is already at a premium with not enough parking serving the 175,000 people attending the festival that is a major contributor to the Oregon Food Bank.

The reason given by Sam's Bureau was that the crews needed to put "oil patches on the cracks in the pavement". RiverPlace just happens to have some of the best paved streets in all of Portland. So, two days of no parking, no parking revenue, and hardship on all the businesses in RiverPlace and the Festival.

Thanks Sam. But we did notice your crews out there, and you can claim that your Bureau really is working on our "Road Disaster". By the way, your crews claimed you had to make repairs in dry weather(even though we have dry weather for many months with two day windows)-how convenient for the Festival.

I guess, ecohuman, we're both talking past each other and are probably equally frustrated with what each of us regards as the other person's inability to grasp the obvious, provide factual support, and stick to the point. This discussion might be worth pursuing in some other forum or context, but we probably shouldn't keep going back and forth on someone else's blog.

Charles Lewis should also include in his press release how Sam the Tram uses his Transportation Bureau to further his political future. .... So, two days of no parking, no parking revenue, and hardship on all the businesses in RiverPlace and the Festival.

How exactly does creating a parking nightmare actually serve Sam's political future? I don't get it.

I didn't get that one exactly, either. Maybe the accusation is that the crew was needlessly working overtime so that Adams could show how dedicated his bureau is?

Downtown Portland and the close-in neighborhoods simply could not function without mass transportation--at least not without the type of additional radical accommodations of the private auto that are pretty horrible to contemplate. (Parking towers on every other block downtown? Several huge bridges over the Willamette? Twelve-lane freeways dumping cars into the city?)

Wrong - we are already half way there:
Between 2001 and 2005:
Downtown Employees Getting to Work by BUS decreased 9% (from 25 to 23%)
Downtown Employees Getting to Work by MAX Light Rail decreased 43% (from 20 to 14%)
Downtown Employees Getting to Work by DRIVE ALONE INCREASED 10% (from 44 to 48%)
Drive alone can't even double!

from page 11 of portlandalliance.com/pdf/2005census.pdf

Don't miss my new page on sprawl at DebunkingPortland.com/Smart/sprawl/sprawl.htm

More fun Portland Facts at DebunkingPortland.com

Thanks
JK

I gotta wonder—have any of you actually ridden the streetcar on a weekday? I take at least once a day to get between my work and the bank, and it's almost always full. Standing room only at rush hour.

And if you've ever tried driving down NW Lovejoy to the Broadway Bridge, you know that the neighborhood has some serious congestion issues.

I agree, though, that the streetcar on its own won't curb congestion. The streetcar paired with a hefty congestion fee? Now that would work wonders.

Also: I'd love to see someone try walking from OHSU to NW23rd every morning. Have fun!

look into the Pearl District, for example. built very dense, incredible access to public transit of all kinds--but some of the highest auto ownership and driving rates in the city. telling me those folks "need" public transit more than folks living in less densely populated suburbs, for example, is difficult to believe.

Yes, but those are the folks that matter, ya know, the important people. Yes, we proles trying to get from the Northeast to the Southeast on the bus get to hoof it, or wait an hour for the occasional bus that wanders by. But I'm happy to sacrifice if it makes the privileged Pearlers' lives just a little more comfortable.

A tram in every garage, and a streetcar in every pot.

Do you ever get the feeling that Karlock desperately wants to live in Houston or Phoenix but can’t afford the plane fare? If somebody would kick in a few dollars we would all get a break from the endless drivel. Of course he would be back in a few months when he sees what compulsory car ownership looks like.

Fingers crossed on the M37 fix. It would be a shame to pave the entire place before this happens:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/10/business/worldbusiness/10oil.html?_r=1&ref=business&oref=slogin

"Do you ever get the feeling that Karlock desperately wants to live in Houston or Phoenix but can’t afford the plane fare?"

Uh oh. I suspect you just pressed one of his buttons. Get ready to be told that Houston and Phoenix have a higher standard of living than Portland, which is because those cities have more cars, fewer buses, almost no bicycles, and few if any curb extensions. This is a fact, and you can look it up--on Karlock's own website. Also, global warming is a myth, one which is debunked on that same website.

Portland public transit options are increasing, but ridership--essentially--is not. we're still stuck at around 13%. that's a generous estimate.

there's not a single urban area with a large population where increased transit options led to meaningful reductions in auto use. i'd challenge any reader to show hard evidence to the contrary. personally, i wish transit did reduce auto use.

folks--consider the possibility that public transit can be both desirable and ineffective at the same time.

Ben -

The reason the street car is often full when you ride is really pretty simple to understand. It's FREE and people have taken it for granted that it's there; and there will not be anyone coming along to hassle them about fares.
One has to wonder how much this FREE ride is costing the City.


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Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 96
At this date last year: 144
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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